Autism

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.


"English, math, chemistry…" I was panicked over all the work I needed to finish, which had become increasingly difficult after doubling my hours at the barn. Overwhelmed, I just wanted to get home. Then, after I finally mastered my barrel pattern, my trainer, Denise, came and asked if I would volunteer for a program involving autistic children. She said most others were frightened away, but she had confidence in me. My cousin Nicholas had just been diagnosed with autism, so I felt some sort of obligation mixed with unease. Though it would have been easier to claim I was too busy, I relented.

On the first day, eighteen-year-old Michael threw his enormous frame on the ground, injuring himself and the horse he was riding. I felt vulnerable around these children, when I was supposed to feel helpful. I looked forward to finishing the program.

Ironically, however, I began to find myself at the barn daily. In October, two brothers, Luke and Adam, joined the program. When we met, Luke stared blankly. I bent and introduced myself. He gazed at me but returned only indecipherable noises. Instead of sensing accomplishment for reaching out, I felt what must have been his horror. Thoughts and words wanted to emerge, but he lacked...

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